Why do you ride a bike? I know why I ride mine. Fitness, weight control and self respect are some reasons. But these are generic, reasons anyone might exercise or play sport. For me cycling is spiritual, something which enriches the soul. The bikes themselves are part of it, but there’s the outdoors, fresh air, the noise of tyres on the road, the exhilaration of speed, danger or skill, the shortness of breath, the feeling in the legs, whether that be deep lactic pain or something more dull. The “suffering” and the satisfaction from fighting adversity and winning. All of it makes me feel fulfilled; a better person.
But there is a limit. I sadistically enjoy the swearing, snot and gritted teeth on a windy ride, I don’t mind the cold, though not the ice, but I hate the rain. When I get in I want to park in the garage before cleaning myself and carrying on with the day. I don’t want to be crouching in the drive painting the chain and gears with de-greaser, or scrubbing a thick layer of black paste from my wheels. Neither do I particularly enjoy the feeling of grit permeating the fabric of my shorts, or the sloshing of water in my shoes and the blanched crenelations on my toes, a preface to trench foot.
For some summer 2013 was great, warm sun giving their year a highlight, but I didn’t see it that way. For me the good weather made an all too brief visit to British shores, besides, I was away for three weeks in July and August. I recall the rain which started in April 2012, became torrential in December then gave way to months of frozen earth and snow. Month after interminable month of it. Then it rained in Spring.
Winter again and it’s still raining, just more than normal. For various reasons, weather included, I’ve not been out on the club run for a few weeks and today, as my club mates battled a horizontal deluge, I trudged out to the garage for 90 minutes on the turbo. There, I ticked all those generic exercise boxes, even felt the burn in the lungs and the pain in my muscles, and dreamt of dry roads, sunshine and warmth on my bare legs. Taking on and beating the pain and boredom even did wonders for my spirit.